Education or freak show? ‘Bodies … The Exhibition’
Posted by Author on September 27, 2006
By WINDA BENEDETTI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 28, 2006-
Standing before a phalanx of reporters and photographers, he is more naked than most of us will ever be.
Not only is he positioned beneath a pool of light without cover of clothing, he is missing his skin and hair — a man stripped to nothing but muscle and bone and sinew, a man whose stomach, liver and intestines perch like books on a shelf for all to see.
Nobody knows exactly who he is — the man whose corpse stands among 20 other unidentified corpses soon to go on display in Seattle as part of a controversial exhibit of cadavers called “Bodies … The Exhibition.” What is known is that he was from China, and when he died his body went unclaimed — unclaimed, that is, until the dissectors at a Chinese university took him into their care and the show’s promoters took him on the road.
These mystery men and women — most of them relieved of their skin, some of them sliced into halves and thirds, all of them with their insides showing for the outside world to see — join the more than 250 human organs and partial-body specimens that make up “Bodies … The Exhibition,” a show that was unveiled for the media earlier this week and opens to the public Saturday.
“Bodies” is just one of several traveling cadaver exhibits that have in recent years pulled in many millions of visitors. And, depending on whom you ask, it’s either a precious educational opportunity not to be missed or nothing more than a modern-day freak show.
“The bottom line of our exhibition is education,” said Dr. Roy Glover, chief medical director for the exhibit, which is presented by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions and hosted locally by the Seattle Theatre Group at 800 Pike, a new exhibition space across the street from the Washington State Convention Center.
Glover, a former professor of anatomy at the University of Michigan, said “Bodies” is designed “to introduce people to themselves.”
“We want people to see the complexities of their bodies,” he said. “We feel that people really need to see in order to understand.”
The exhibition allows visitors to walk among corpses preserved through a process (referred to as plastination) that fills their tissue spaces with a liquid silicone rubber. The bodies are then dissected and posed in a manner best suited to displaying the intricate workings of the skeletal, muscular, reproductive and other systems.
Various body parts help illustrate for the public the ravages of disease and poor lifestyle choices — the blackened lungs of a smoker placed near the pale lungs of a non-smoker, a healthy liver next to a liver sick with cirrhosis.
“Our bodies are our most important possession,” said Glover, adding that, unfortunately, people tend to take better care of their cars.
But critics say this show and others like it don’t so much educate as they do desecrate the human body for profit.
“Premier is a for-profit company. What they’re trying to do is make money for a corporation,” said Philip Lipson, a Seattle resident who Tuesday stood outside the soon-to-be-opened exhibit distributing protest fliers.
Meanwhile, members of human-rights watchdog groups and some members of Seattle’s Chinese community have expressed concern that, not only do the bodies come from a country with a long history of human-rights abuses, but the people whose bodies were used did not give permission for their bodies to be put on display.
“I’m troubled by the fact the bodies are from China,” said Ron Chew, executive director of the Wing Luke Asian Museum. “There are a lot of issues there.”
“From a cultural perspective, especially since a number of the cadavers are from China, it feels like a gross violation,” said Bettie Luke, who works with various Seattle Chinese American groups. “The willful use of putting a body on indefinite display like that condemns the soul to wander the netherworld with no chance to rest.” ( more from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s report )
– Organ sales ‘thriving’ in China, BBC News, 27 September 2006
- Click to email (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
This entry was posted on September 27, 2006 at 11:58 pm and is filed under China, Crime against humanity, Economy, Education, Health, Law, Life, News, People, Social, USA, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
15 Responses to “Education or freak show? ‘Bodies … The Exhibition’”
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.